Dermot O’Leary spoke out about library closures during his visit to Colchester yesterday.

Books played a huge part in Dermot’s growing up and he voiced his sadness over controversial county council proposals to cut a third of the country’s libraries.

The X Factor and BBC Radio Two presenter spent yesterday with more than 300 lucky Colchester schoolchildren at the town’s Mercury Theatre.

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They were read to by an energetic Dermot before he spent nearly two hours signing copies of the two children’s books he has published so far and posing for photographs.

Dermot later met around 350 more fans at Waterstones in High Street to sign more copies of his books.

Speaking to the Gazette, he said: “It is difficult. I am not a county councillor, I have no idea how tight their budgets are, I am sure it is the same across the board but it would be a tragic shame to get rid of libraries because of the support to the community.

“Communities have to use them for their work. They are utterly important parts of the community and what they can give young minds.”

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The star told the Gazette his dad used to take him to Colchester Library on a Saturday when the family lived in the area during his childhood days.

He attended primary school in Marks Tey where he particularly enjoyed reading and later went to St Benedict’s Catholic College, Colchester.

County Hall is proposing a shake-up of all of its 74 libraries, which will save it £2 million. A third face total closure.

A 12-week consultation ended last month with a decision due later this year.